Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
clarksvilleal

Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by clarksvilleal » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:58 pm

Hi - I am a relative newbie here, but I think I can offer a solution for some of you to the nail problem based on my own experience since I recently started back with CG studies (at the ripe old age of 61). I have problems both with occasional cracks as well as major damage, due mostly to my stubborn insistence on carrying on hazardous (to the nails) hobbies like car repair, woodworking and gardening. I stumbled on this because of a panic situation in December when the entire tip of my RH thumb nail broke almost completely off :x . I went to a local guitar shop in search of a solution. They had Rico nails, which didn't appeal to me for various reasons. But they also had a Savarez nail repair kit, consisting of a strip of fine self-adhesive silk, glue, a wooden spreader and a small foam-block abrasive pad. I actually got it for free, since it was 3 years old, and well past the expiration date. (The glue was hardened and no good.) The shop owner told me it was really just super glue. He said he didn't like using this kit much because the super glue would run all over, get under your nails and on your skin, etc.

So I took the free kit, and went to Home Depot to get some glue. There I found :idea: a gel-type super glue, which seemed like it might overcome the runny-glue problems. Knowing a bit about glue and the importance of the surface being clean from my woodworking experience, I cleaned my nail with 91% isopropyl alcohol, and proceeded to add 3 layers of silk. I put the first silk piece directly on the nail, leaving it a little long so I could trim and shape it better. I then applied the gel super glue on top of the silk, spreading it evenly with the little wooden stick that came in the kit, making sure to spread it carefully around the edge of the silk and onto the adjacent part of the nail. I let that dry a few minutes, then stuck on another layer of silk and spread more glue on that, followed again by a third layer after a few minutes. After letting the repair dry for about 15 minutes, I then filed and sanded it to shape and - Voila! The repaired nail was stronger than the original, and had a fine sound - maybe even better than before.

Since then I have had several nails break or crack, and have repaired all of them this way, although I generally only use two layers of silk now. I normally use only a narrow strip near the tip - maybe extending about 1/4" back from the tip. The beauty of it: it only takes about 10 minutes total; the nail is stronger and if anything better sounding than my "unvarnished" nail; it feels completely normal, after I sand and polish it with very fine (1000 grit) sandpaper. I can't tell any difference when I am playing. And it even looks almost completely normal. Also, in spite of what some others have said in other threads about nail repairs, done correctly, with the cleaning being key, the repairs are more or less permanent - i.e., until the nail grows out enough that I wind up filing off all of the repaired section. The only time they have come off prematurely is when I got lazy once or twice and didn't clean the nail with alcohol first. And in those cases the repair came off in one piece and I was able to simply glue it back on again with more super glue.

Now, the Savarez kit is a little pricey: I have seen it advertised on web sites for anywhere from $25 to $35. But happily you don't need to buy this kit, because self-adhering silk is inexpensive and readily available at various beauty supply and manicurist-oriented web sites (ex: 2 yard strip for $2.98 on http://www.nailliteinc.com), and the gel-type super glue is only a couple of bucks at HD.

Bottom line: I now rest easy not worrying about breaking or cracking nails, and I am considering reinfocing all my RH nails with this technique to make them stonger, to compensate for my poor nail shape, and because they seem to sound better, esp. my i and m nails, which curl over and don't sound the notes well for me. So I no longer have to be satisfied with my natural nail shape and curve - You can almost totally reshape your nail to an optimum shape which is stronger than most natural nails, to boot. :D

Don't know why more folks don't use this solution. Works great for me!
Last edited by clarksvilleal on Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

ramsnake

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by ramsnake » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:01 pm

My nail repair kit is very cheap. a ping-pong ball, a piece of tissue paper and runny superglue which I have learnt too handle adeptly over the years.

clarksvilleal

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by clarksvilleal » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:36 pm

I'd look funny with four ping-pong balls stuck onto the ends of my fingers :lol:

Seriously, though, I like the silk/super glue because my nails look and feel perfectly normal, they are quite secure, and I don't ever feel the need to remove them when I'm not playing. And it's cheap if you get the silk from a nail supply outfit.

But hey - whatever works for you.

ramsnake

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by ramsnake » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:44 pm

I use the ping pong ball crescents when I need to replace an entirely lost nail. The material is very similar to the natural nail and is attached underneath the existing remaining nail and works brilliantly.
I use single layers of tissue paper as splints over cracks as you do with the silk.

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Hans W
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Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by Hans W » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:04 am

ramsnake wrote:The material is very similar to the natural nail and is attached underneath the existing remaining nail and works brilliantly.
So its under the nail NOT on top. That would certainly make a difference appearance wise. So you just apply the glue to the material, push it under the remaining nail and then trim.
Classical Guitar rules!

ramsnake

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by ramsnake » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:01 am

Hans W wrote:
ramsnake wrote:The material is very similar to the natural nail and is attached underneath the existing remaining nail and works brilliantly.
So its under the nail NOT on top. That would certainly make a difference appearance wise. So you just apply the glue to the material, push it under the remaining nail and then trim.
Yes that is correct but you do have to be a little careful with the use of the superglue.
I have had some moments I can tell you - very hard to play guitar with a finger of one hand stuck to the thumb on the other! :grire: :grire: :grire:
Not really amusing but amusing all the same!

clarksvilleal

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by clarksvilleal » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:40 pm

Ramsnake and all other interested nail-breakers - by way of clarification, the silk/super-glue repairs have worked for me not just on cracked nails, but on the worst broken nails as well. When the nail is badly broken - i.e., most of the tip is gone, I use 3 layers of silk. Otherwise, 2, or even one layer in the case of a minor crack. Once hardened, the silk/super-glue repair becomes rigid and strong, as good as or better than the original nail. You do have to take care how you position the first layer of silk in the cases where a good part of the nail tip is gone, stretching it taut and being careful when you spread the super-glue so that it stays taut. Once that first layer is hardened, then the other layers go on easily without much fuss.

ramsnake

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by ramsnake » Mon Jan 28, 2008 10:44 pm

Apprently an old silk shirt will do as well so I will try this out at some point.

This would repair a few nails wouldn't it? Everybodies on the forum I suspect and for a few years. :grire:
http://www.enailsupply.com/index.asp?Pa ... odID=12432

Derry

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by Derry » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:07 am

been using the super glue for years,, have had a thumb nail broke completly off and able to repair it and play as usual,, great stuff,,

might also try running a small bead along the front of all playing nails,, helps stop cracking and offers a thicker surface on the strings,,

clarksvilleal

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by clarksvilleal » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:26 am

ramsnake wrote:Apprently an old silk shirt will do as well so I will try this out at some point.
I was thinking one of my old silk ties might work. Only problem is I'm not sure what others would think when they saw me with bright red/green paisley nails. Maybe I should try the blue w/ yellow polka dots first :)

However, there is one other big (IMO) advantage to the self-adhesive silk besides being white (which looks almost transarent after it is applied with the glue) - it is, after all, self-adhesive.
Derry wrote:been using the super glue for years,, have had a thumb nail broke completly off and able to repair it and play as usual,, great stuff,,

might also try running a small bead along the front of all playing nails, helps stop cracking and offers a thicker surface on the strings
Derry - I was thinking about trying that myself. Thanks for recommending it. Do you use the gel-type super-glue?

Derry

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by Derry » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:52 pm

I use super glue by Loctite,, is thin,, buy at Wal Mart,, has a nice application top that does not clog and one bottle will last ya a long time,,

clarksvilleal

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by clarksvilleal » Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:30 pm

The gel-type I use is also loctite. It's a great brand name that you can trust. I didn't think about looking for it at Walmart, but they may have it too. At this point I'm sticking with the gel because it works well and definitely doesn't drip or run. The tip does sometimes clog a bit, but a straight pin takes care of that.

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James Lister
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Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by James Lister » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:36 pm

I've been using a combination of superglue and tissue paper for some time but the self-adhesive silk should be stronger. I've just bought some from e - b a y for a mere £2.50 for a yard - much cheaper than £16.50 for the Savarez kit. Might try using gel glue instead of the thin stuff which I often get under my nail, and then have to prize the nail away from the flesh. :oops:

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

batvanio

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by batvanio » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:52 pm

Isn't superglue supposed to be toxic?

clarksvilleal

Re: Nail Repair - an Alternative that Really Works!

Post by clarksvilleal » Fri Feb 01, 2008 9:22 pm

Don't know, and don't much care. I only use it on the top of my nails, which is dead tissue anyway. And with the gel-type glue I almost never get it on my skin. But even if I occasionally do, I am not going to lose any sleep over it. I think some of these rabid toxic fears are way overblown. Just my opinion, of course.

P.S. When I was in high school in the 60's, we used to play with liquid mercury in chemistry lab - coating coins with it, among other things, with our bare fingers. If we did that in 2008, they would evacuate the school, send in the guys in the bunny suits from the Hazardous Materials SWAT team, spend tens of thousands of dollars on clean-up, have the entire community panic-stricken, have the slip-and-fall lawyers lined up at the courthouse filing lawsuits, etc.

Not that I am recommending that you kids out there try this at home. Wasn't a good idea, probably. But you get my drift - here I am more than 40 years later still alive and well - albeit a little nutty for taking up CG again at age 60. (Hmmm, maybe there is something to that Mercury thing after all ...)

Go figure.

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